In the 1990s, Las Vegas was attempting to rebrand itself as, if not exactly a family vacation destination, then at least a family-friendly place, and theme parks were part of the makeover plan. Remnants of the era remain, including the Adventuredome at Circus Circus, but the gamble for pioneers such as the MGM Grand Adventures theme park, which closed in 2000 after seven years of struggling to find an audience, never paid off. Sin City has reverted to its wink-wink "what-happens-in-Vegas" persona, however the aura of the Strip as a theme park midway for naughty adults is set to be enhanced as competing mega Ferris wheels are scheduled to open around the same time next year.
Construction has already begun on the 500-foot-tall SkyVue across from the Mandalay Bay resort. According to the Associated Press, Caesars Entertainment is building the High Roller, a 550-foot wheel, near its Flamingo casino-hotel. (By the way, the defunct coaster that used to circle the top of the Stratosphere Tower was also called the High Roller.) Both attractions, which are planned to start spinning in late 2013, would soar higher than the 443-foot London Eye. The High Roller would be the world's tallest observation wheel, edging out the 541-foot Singapore Flyer.
Could Vegas support two giant wheels? In a city that's defined by oversized, iconic gambling palaces, glitz, and jazzed-up frolicking, it's probable that both would thrive. But they would create a cluttered and odd skyline.
Photo: High Roller wheel courtesy of Arup.